Company spokeswoman Kirstie Foster said,
...it was Sanger's decision to step down as CEO. The board made the decision Monday morning, she said, just before the the company's annual meeting. The hand over was, "a planned and thoughtful part" of the company's succession plan, although General Mills had not previously announced that Sanger would be leaving his post, she said. She went on to say, "The Board values Stephen's continuing leadership as chairman, and Stephen agreed to continue in that role for a time to aid in the transition".It is very unusual for succession planning to work in this manner, yet there were some indications earlier that Powell was a successor in waiting. Earlier in the month, CFO magazine had a piece by Laura Mars about the ambiguity surrounding the vice chairman title. In the article, Mars referred specifically to Powell as Sanger's successor.
Powell appears to be a good choice to replace Sanger. Powell is 53 years old and has worked with the company since 1979. General Mills promoted Powell to president and chief operating officer in May 2006 after he increased marketing of new cereals to win back customers from Kellogg. He holds a bachelor's degree in biology from Harvard and an MBA from Stanford. The real question that remains unanswered is is why Sanger left or was forced out. The company met its expected numbers and has been performing quite well.
Keep a close eye on the company's operations and the steps Powell follows to transition to his new leadership.
For more on the change:
Newsvine AP Story
Ad hoc News